This year, AXXCON once again conducted the Innovation Benchmark Energy Industry. As a management consultancy, we are specialised in digital transformations. We conduct a study on the innovative capacity of German energy supply companies every year. This time, the service offering of 22 selected energy supply companies was analysed in autumn 2018 and compared with the result of the first benchmark from 2016.
Press release 11/21/2018
Not a question of money: even small energy supply companies can be great innovators
To be innovative, the energy industry does not necessarily need large financial resources or a corporate background. This is the result of the analysis "Innovation Benchmark Energy Industry" conducted by the consulting company AXXCON in autumn 2018. For this purpose, the range of innovative services and products was compared, from smart homes to consulting apps to electromobility. Twenty-two German energy suppliers were examined as representatives, ranging from the large nationwide players to smaller and medium-sized regional municipal utilities. The municipal utilities were selected as examples to reflect the different sizes. The analysis was based on the current entries on the respective websites.
Third place for a regional provider
The RWE subsidiary Innogy has the largest and broadest visible range of innovative products and services, followed by the energy giant Eon. In third place is Stadtwerke Augsburg. With an annual turnover of 0.56 billion euros, Stadtwerke Augsburg is one of the four smallest of the utilities surveyed. The other top 10 also include smaller regional municipal utilities such as the Gesellschaft für Kommunalwirtschaft Iserlohn group and Mainova AG. "This disproves the widespread assumption that only large companies have the necessary financial resources and know-how to bring new products and services to the market", conclude Stefan Jaschke, partner, and expert for energy utilities as well as Dr. Bernard Richter, head of analysis, and expert for innovative services at AXXCON.
Their conclusion is: "Offering innovative services is less a question of being able than of being willing." A total of 49 innovative service offerings were identified. These cover a large spectrum from the possibility of online appointments to the use of new storage technologies to intelligent electricity tariffs. They were clustered in four categories: digitalisation, efficient energy use and generation, mobility as well as innovative services and sales strategies. The frequency with which the corresponding services are offered shows where the energy suppliers have deficits. For example, there is still a lot of space for improvement in mobility. Public charging stations are offered by almost all utilities so far. Only 27 percent are involved in car-sharing, and 18 percent in e-bikes and e-cars. When it comes to digitalisation, the research shows that more than 50 percent, of the energy supply companies offer digital products and services. ‘However, there is still great potential in the areas of online appointment booking, city WLAN, apps for advice and for the smarter use of e-mobility‘, says Dr. Richter. So far, only 14 percent of the companies considered offer an online appointment.
Customer-centred innovation bears fruits
As the comparison with the first Innovation Benchmark from 2016 shows, the number of identified innovative service offerings has grown from 37 to 49 within two years. This means an increase of 32 percent. Overall, the number of products has increased from 400 to 529, which also shows that energy supply companies have expanded their service offerings over the past two years. ‘We see that the efforts towards customer-centric innovations are beginning to bear fruit‘, explains Dr. Richter. A look at the individual companies shows that there is still a lot of potential for development. ‘Only a few have consistently expanded their portfolio‘, says the expert. AXXCON knows from its own studies as well as from practice that customers expect innovative services from their energy supplier. When it comes to expanding their own range of services, the Innovation Benchmark is very useful, especially for regional energy providers. They can learn from energy suppliers in other regions without entering a direct competitive situation.
We look forward to presenting our results to you in a personal meeting. Please feel free to contact us. Dr. Bernard Richter and Stefan Jaschke are available as your contact persons.
(published in ZfK on 11/21/2018)